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by Gideon Marcus

The radio plays Classical music on the FM band now.

The difference is palpable. Bach and Mozart on the AM band were tinny and remote. It was almost as though the centuries separating me and the composers had been attenuating the signal. This new radio band (well, not so new, but newly utilized) allows transmissions as clear as any Hi-Fi record set could deliver.

Don't get me wrong; I still listen to the latest pop hits by The Shirelles and The Ventures, but I find myself increasingly tuned into the local classics station. The sound, and the selections, are just too good to ignore. The last movement of Robert Schumann's Symphony #1, with its stirring accelerando is playing right now, and it is a fitting accompaniment for the article I am currently composing.

Time was I would write an article on a space mission about once a month. This wouldn't be a wrap-up, but an article devoted to a single satellite. But the pace of space launches has increased – there were two successful orbital flights in 1957, nine in 1958, 13 in 1959, 20 in 1960, 38 in 1961. There were six flights just last week. Either I'm going to have to start abbreviating my coverage, or I'll need to start a satellite (no pun intended) column.

But that's a decision for next year. Right now, with a bit of musical texturing, let me tell you all about the exciting things that happened in spaceflight, April 1962:



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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by Gideon Marcus

I never thought the time would come that reading The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction would be the most dreaded portion of my duties...and yet, here we are. Two issues into new Editor Avram Davidson's tenure, it appears that the mag's transformation from a great bastion of literary (if slightly stuffy) scientifiction is nearly complete. The title of the digest might well be The Magazine of Droll Trifles (with wry parenthetical asides).

One or two of these in an issue, if well done, can be fine. But when 70% of the content is story after story with no science and, at best, stream-of-consciousness whimsy, it's a slog. And while one could argue that last issue's line-up comprised works picked by the prior editor, it's clear that this month's selections were mostly Davidson's.

Moreover, Robert Mills (the outgone "Kindly Editor") used to write excellent prefaces to his works, the only ones I would regularly read amongst all the digests. Davidson's are rambling and purple, though I do appreciate the biographical details on Burger and Aandahl this ish.

I dunno. Perhaps you'll consider my judgment premature and unfair. I certainly hope things get better...



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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by Gideon Marcus

There's a change a comin'. I'm sure you've seen heralds of its passage. Last summer, hundreds of Whites and Blacks took to the buses and rode into the South, flauting the segregated busing laws. Leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X are rallying their brethren to fight centuries of oppression. For the first time, the Democrats look to be out-Civil Rightsing the Republicans (who would have predicted that in 1948?) Yes, the country is heading toward a long overdue shift, a final resolution of the crisis born in the original Constitution and only half-fought in the bloodiest war of American history.



It's no surprise, then, that we're seeing this war play out in science fiction as well as reality. Speculative literature constitutes our thought experiments, letting us see worlds like ours, but with allegorical players or, perhaps, a great time shift. Some authors approach the topic tangentially, for instance depicting Blacks as fully integrated in a future setting. Others, approach the subject head-on.

SF author J.F. Bone is a bit of a cipher. I have little biographical information about him. I do know that he started writing a few years ago, and his works have a certain thoughtfulness that elevates it above the run of the mill. His recent Founding Father was a fascinating look into the mindset of a slavemaster, made particularly chilling by its light tone.



Bone's latest work is a novel called The Lani People. It is a more straightforward investigation of prejudice and discrimination, set 5000 years in the future.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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By Ashley R. Pollard

Looking back to October the 4th 1957 when Sputnik was launched, it’s hard to believe that only five years have passed since that fateful day when Russia beat Britain and America into space (perhaps my American readers will say that Britain had no realistic chance of getting into space first, which I would agree with, but for the Western nations to be beaten by the Russians – now that’s the thing.)

With Sputnik, humanity transitioned from flying through the air to moving through the vacuum of space, where no living animal can survive without a pressure suit. The only other time that I can think of when a paradigm shift of this nature took place would be back when the first hot-air balloons were invented. This provoked the discussion, at the time, that this was the invention of travelling through the air.



As I read the history of hot-air balloons, the idea of travelling through air as an invention seems odd to me. But as language evolves over time, so do concepts like invention, which has moved from the original Latin meaning of discovery to the more modern meaning of a process or device. Though by modern I should clarify that I mean "from the fifteenth century," which is not surprising given the changes that arose from the Renaissance, and everything that came out of rediscovery of the knowledge of the ancient Greeks.

For those who look back on the past with rose-tinted glasses I will remind my readers that the times I’m writing about were surrounded by their own troubles. The Turkish conquest of Constantinople in 1453, for example, which led to a westward exodus of Greek scholars that fuelled the rediscovery of ancient thinking. One can argue that today’s troubles, with West and East facing off against each other, is just part of the story of humanity's struggle between its biological drives versus its intellectual aspirations.



Almost equidistant (physically, though not ideologically) from the Free and Communist worlds, Britain is about to become Earth's third nation to practice the "invention" of travelling through space.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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by Gideon Marcus

Science fiction magazines are not created equal.

Every editor brings her/his own slant to their magazine's theme. For instance, Cele Goldsmith strikes an old-fashioned chord, reviving classics from the Pulp Era in Amazing and Fantastic. Fred Pohl keeps things reliable (if not exceptional) in Galaxy, but showcases new and innovative works in IF. Before it went under, Fantastic Universe devoted much ink to flying saucer stories and articles.



And as you will soon see, Analog is preoccupied with psychic powers and pseudo-scientific quackery (a redundant phrase?). Viz, the May 1962 issue:

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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by Gideon Marcus

Those of you deeply in the know are aware that Sid Pink made the Scandinavian answer to Godzilla last year, Reptilicus, and Ib Melchior brought it to the states (where it has had a limited release). It was, to all accounts, pretty awful.

The unlikely Danish-American team of Sid Pink and Ib Melchior is back, gracing our drive-ins with the latest American International Pictures extravaganza, Journey to the 7th Planet. It is a space exploration flick, as one might guess, and (praising damned faintly) it's not as bad as it could have been.

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by John Boston



Last month, I asked: can they keep it up? Amazing’s marked increase in quality, that is. Well, no, not this month anyway.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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by Victoria Silverwolf

April is the cruelest month -- T. S. Eliot, The Wasteland

Maybe it's because it's almost time to mail in those tax forms to Uncle Sam, or maybe it's because of the tension between President Kennedy and the steel companies, or maybe it's because Jack Parr left his television series (which will now be known by the boring, generic title The Tonight Show), or maybe it's because the constant radio play of the smash hit Johnny Angel by actress Shelley Fabares of The Donna Reed Show is driving me out of my mind, or maybe it's because of George Schelling's B movie cover art for the May 1962 issue of Fantastic; but for whatever reason your faithful correspondent approached the contents of the magazine with a leery eye.


(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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[April 10, 1962] All the Difference (May 1962 IF Science Fiction)


by Gideon Marcus

The measure of a story's quality, good or bad, is how well it sticks in your memory. The sublime and the stinkers are told and retold, the mediocre just fades away. If you ever wonder how I rate the science fiction I read, memorability is a big component.

This month's IF has some real winners, and even the three-star stories have something to recommend them. For the first time, I see a glimpse of the greatness that almost was under Damon Knight's tenure back in 1959. Read on, and perhaps you'll agree.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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[Apr. 7, 1962] Half and Half (The Twilight Zone, Season 3, Episodes 25-28)


by Gideon Marcus

I have maligned the show that Rod built over the course of this, the third season. Serling has seemed tired, borrowing cliches from himself. Thus, I was delightedly surprised to find some of the best quality of the series appearing more than half-way through this latest stretch. Read all the way through because, in keeping with the show, there's a bit of a twist around the mid-article mark. You won't want to miss it:



(see the rest at Galactic Journey)
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[The great debate of any magazine (fan or professional) is whether or not to include a letter column. Obviously, I append reader comments to their article which they reference, but sometimes I get letters of a more general nature. Since I imagine my readers would like to know their fellow fen, I'm publishing a recently received missive, this from a charming young lady I met at Condor...]



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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by Gideon Marcus

Good golly, is it 1962 already? WonderCon remains one of the largest and most up-to-date conventions in the state. Attendance was well into the hundreds, likely due to the broad scope of fandoms covered. Everything from comic books to science fiction film and television – it's almost like Galactic Journey Con! (if you're new to the Journey, reference this summary article to see what we're all about.)



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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by Gideon Marcus

This weekend, the Journey travels to WonderCon, a midlin'-sized fan convention with an emphasis on comics and science fiction. It's a perfect opportunity to introduce Galactic Journey to a host of new readers, folks who have a keen interest in what this column has to offer.

So what is Galactic Journey? Quite simply, it is the most comprehensive 'zine you'll find covering all of the coolest, the quirkiest, the most far out stuff, as it happens, day-by-day.

In 1962.



You see, the Traveler (along with his gang, which has now grown to ten persons!) is like everyone else. He plods along through time at a steady rate of one hour per hour, one year per year -- maybe just not the year you live in.

When he started documenting this trip, it was October 21, 1958. Sputnik was just a year old. Buddy Holly was still around. Now, three and a half years later, we have a new President. We have a new dance craze. There have been five men in space.

Along the way, he and his fellow travelers have written on every aspect of current science fiction and fantasy:

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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by Gideon Marcus

I used to call The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction "dessert." Of all the monthly sf digests, it was the cleverest, the one most willing to take risks, and the most enjoyable reading. Over the past two years, I've noticed a slow but decided trend into the realm of "literary quality." In other words, it's not how good the stories are, or how fun the reading – they must be experimental and erudite to have any merit. And if you don't get the pieces, well, run off to Analog where the dumb people live.



A kind of punctuation mark has been added to this phenomenon. Avram Davidson, that somber dilettante with an encyclopedic knowledge and writing credits that take up many sheets of paper, has taken over as editor of F&SF from Robert Mills. Five years ago, I might have cheered. But Davidson's path has mirrored that of the magazine he now helms: a descent into literary impenetrability. Even his editorial prefaces to the magazine's stories are off-putting and contrived.

I dunno. You be the judge.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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I love the bookstore in my town. Not only do they have a news stand in front that provides me with the latest world events and developments in the US space program, but they have a very comprehensive science fiction section front and center as you walk in. I'll occasionally look at the newsstand's selection of comic books when I hear that there is a new series from Marvel Comics, but every trip to the bookstore must come with at least thirty minutes spent in the science fiction section. This month part of my book budget went to an Ace Double Novel containing the third publication of A. Bertram Chandler's The Rim of Space as well as the first edition of John Brunner's Secret Agent of Terra.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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by Gideon Marcus

Ask the average citizen their opinion of science fiction and they'll likely mention monsters, flying saucers, and ray guns. SF has gotten a bad rap lately, largely due to the execrable movies nominally representing it, but there's no question that the pulps of the 30s and 40s, and the lesser magazines of the 50s didn't help much. And yet, only Science fiction offers endless worlds in which to explore fundamental human issues. Religion. Philosophy. Politics. It is only in our fantastic genre that the concept "if this goes on" can be pushed to extremes, whether a story be set in the far future or on a remote planet. SF isn't just kiddie stuff – it can be the most adult of genres.



Case in point: Analog, formerly Astounding Science Fiction, set a standard in the pulp era as the grown-up magazine in the field. And while I've had something of a love-hate relationship with the digest that Campbell built, this particular issue – the April 1962 edition – offers up some intriguing political predictions that, if not probable, are at least noteworthy.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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By Ashley R. Pollard

Last month I said I would talk about science fiction fan activity in Britain. I think it only fair to say that my involvement with British science fiction fandom is peripatetic, as in unsettled, as I lack the stamina to be fully involved with fannish behaviour. Not a bad thing per se, but not my cup of tea. As such, I’m all too aware that my account of British Eastercons is rather secondhand, as I haven’t been to one for several years.

Furthermore, I’m not a Big Name Fan, because I stand at a distance from the core of those who move and shake the mores of fandom. One could argue that I’m an old time fan who has gafiated from fandom, getting away from it all, since I rarely participate in fannish activities per se. Before you jump to the conclusion that I therefore must be a sercon fan, serious and constructive, I should add I’m not that either. For me the word FIJAGH says it all: fandom is just a goddam hobby. It sums up my position perfectly



With those caveats in place let me talk about the British national science fiction convention.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey)
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[The Journey's "Fashion Columnist" returns with a timely piece on the latest advancement in sartorial science...]


by Gwyn Conaway

Last month, on February 20th, 1962, John Glenn became the second American to leave behind our earthly constraints for the majesty of space.

Less than one year after Alan Shepard’s historic suborbital flight on a Redstone rocket, John Glenn ascended to low Earth orbit in his spacecraft, Friendship 7. He circled the Earth three times at speeds upwards of 17,000 miles per hour, and persevered through the crushing force of nearly eight times the force of Earth's gravity Gs at reentry into our atmosphere.



What a time to be alive! We are witness to human history! This is a milestone in a long journey toward chasing the unknown. Never have I been more certain that we are explorers, creatures of adventure. And what better bedfellow to our curiosity than innovation? For to accomplish his mission, Colonel Glenn required two spacecraft: the bell-shaped Mercury, as well as his formfitting personal capsule – the Mark IV spacesuit.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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With just three weeks to go before I attend the comics-themed science fiction convention in the Los Angeles area known as "Wonder Con," I think it's high time for an update on what's going on in the world of Marvel Comics. As I related earlier, Marvel (formerly Atlas) seems bent on rebuilding a stable of superheroes to complement their line-up of Westerns and Model mags.

Last year saw the introduction of the Fantastic Four, which is now up to issue #4. More on them later. This month, the new superbeing is The Incredible Hulk. I hesitate to use the word "hero" since The Hulk doesn't seem to be a good character, at least, not yet.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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by Gideon Marcus

and


by Lorelei Marcus

[I'll let the Young Traveler lead this time. She's put her finger on what we enjoy and don't about The Twilight Zone]



Guess who's back with another The Twilight Zone review! Well, I personally prefer Rocky and Bullwinkle, but I'm afraid you came here for a The Twilight Zone review, so I suppose I'll have to comply. As usual, me and my father watched four episodes of Sterling's show over these past four weeks.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)

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